Impact Story

From IDS to founding an award-winning social enterprise

Published on 28 August 2023

Mina Chiang studied for an MA in Development Studies in 2017, with a scholarship from Rotary International in her home country, Taiwan. She has since founded the Humanity Research Consultancy (HRC), an award-winning social enterprise that works to end modern slavery and human trafficking.

Mina has also been shortlisted for the 2023 Great British Entrepreneur Awards & Community under the category of Global Entrepreneur of the Year.

A woman with long dark hair speaking on the news, with the caption 'cyber scam traffickers targetting professionals across Asia
Mina Chiang being interviewed on CNN. Credit: Mina Chiang / HRC

Mina talks about her journey from applying to IDS to some of the incredible things HRC has achieved.

Studying at IDS

Scholarships are not innovative or fancy but are one of the oldest and effective ways to make changes to people’s lives and to achieve social mobility. My mum didn’t go to university and my dad accessed higher education through the military system. My family’s financial situation meant I could never have studied abroad without a scholarship, and I still had student debts from my bachelor’s degree. But my desire for knowledge and a bigger world meant I was determined to find funding.

I wanted to study at IDS as it doesn’t just teach, but also is a thinktank and works directly on projects that shape our world. I loved that my classmates were from around 50 different countries. My research ability clearly improved through the MA – without the experience at IDS, I would not have been able to establish HRC. The most important thing I gained from the course was the understanding of the international development industry. Studying the MA helps you to see beyond charitable organisations’ sporadic acts – to how the international development sector is trying to solve major global problems like poverty, and its limitations and merits.

Pioneering work to combat modern slavery

I wanted to get involved in combatting modern slavery because I believe it is unacceptable for human beings to exploit others in this way in our modern world. I was frustrated by seeing how many projects fly international researchers and consultants in and out, but local people have minimum or no role. Because so many young professionals from the global South struggle to access work opportunities, I wanted to try and address that. I also believe that working with locals who speak the languages and understand the culturally context, are crucial in effectively combating modern slavery.

HRC specialises in working predominantly with researchers from the global South. Major organisations such as Oxfam, Plan International, United States Institute for Peace (USIP) and Winrock International have commissioned HRC research.
We are a small organisation, but we achieve a lot! In the twelve months I am particularly proud of our pioneering work combatting the scamming compounds located in Southeast Asia, becoming one of the leading actors in this area. We exposed the crime, analysed the issue, provided intelligence to law enforcement bodies, conducted victim rescue and support, and raised global awareness. As a result, we are seeing major changes – people’s lives being saved and criminals arrested. I am extremely proud of my team for our hard work and dedication.

My hope for the future of HRC is that we go from strength to strength – continuing to be extremely effective and having high impact. I’d like to see us become a recognisable brand when it comes to countering human trafficking and engaging professionals from the global South.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IDS.


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